Not conducted by Jim Jarmusch, but still:
"Stranger Than Average Guys"
By Grant Alden
huH Magazine, June 1996
Butthole Surfers' leader Gibby Haynes sits down for a chat with friend and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch about music, movies, and molecules, shotguns, suits, and souped-up cars.
The rock star Gibby Haynes bums five bucks for cigarettes, then smokes fiercely through midtown Manhattan traffic. He is handed a cellular phone the better to negotiate changes to the cover artwork for the Butthole Surfers' latest release, which he does with considerable reluctance and an astringent tongue straight out of deepest Texas. And all with the savvy of an Italian-suited accountant, which he nearly was years ago, back before he got swept away in the truth and justice of punk rock.
The filmmaker Jim Jarmusch faces somebody else's camera with patience and something between a smile and a smirk. He still wears his hair in sort of a platinum homage to Billy Idol, and makes films of such puckish provocation (Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, Mystery Train, Night On Earth, and now Dead Man) that his role in that border world between art and commerce seems well assured.
Which is pretty much where Gibby fits in, somewhere in that same margin. They have some other things in common, Jim and Gibby: big guns, old cars, Johnny Depp, the new film Dead Man (with, speaking of iconoclasts, a fine soundtrack by Neil Young), a peculiar pleasure in the dance of words, and a savage disrespect for the corporate world. They're also old friends, who agreed to meet for lunch in Little Italy and talk a lot about nothing in particular.
huH: Would you begin by identifying yourselves, so we can properly attribute quotes during transcription?
Gibby Haynes: My name's Jim.
Jim Jarmusch: Hi, I'm Gibson, Gibson Haynes.
Gibby: I'm Jim...how do you pronounce your last name?
Jim: (deadpan) With a 'y.' H-A-Y Well, now, what are we going to talk about? Have you broken a lot of bones in your lifetime?
Gibby: Yes. Well, I've never broken a leg. Did you say all of your bones?
Jim: No, no, have you broken a lot of bones?
Gibby: Yes I have. Yes. (to the waiter) Uh, I'll have the linguini calamari.
Waiter: Hot sauce?
Gibby: Yeah. On the side.
Jim: Linguini with garlic and oil.
Gibby: You don't have Dr. Pepper, do you?
Waiter: No. Pepsi.
Gibby: Pepsi? Two of 'em, they're so tasty.
Jim: San Pellegrino? Mineral water.
huH: Your hands look like you've banged them up a lot.
Gibby: My hands?
huH: Yeah. Your knuckles look like you've done some damage.
Gibby: (laughs) I fought for years. Yeah. The hotel room took a beating last night. (laughs)
Jim: You once told me it was really hard to fight Mexican midgets[sic], because of the torque.
Gibby: Hispanic dwarves are evil. I think it was just a midget in general. I once heard a guy describe seeing a midget[sic] hold off like ten pachucos with a chain (makes the sound of the chain whistling through the air).
Jim: What's going on with your radio show (in Austin, Texas)?
Gibby: They fired me.
Jim: When? Recently?
Gibby: (chuckles) They don't know radio like I know radio. I didn't tell you? Oh, yeah. As soon as I got back from recording the record here they fired me. For playing the live version of "Freebird."
Jim: Why would that be grounds for firing?
Gibby: It was sort of the straw...one of just many straws...
Jim: That's too bad.
Gibby: No, I was really, really bored. It was good when I was totally broke and the music was fresh. Coming up with 30 new songs that are really great, five nights a week, is impossible.
Jim: But you took call-in stuff, too, right?
Gibby: Yeah, and then I got tired of that, too, because then tons of people
would call in with really weird crap. Really weird stuff. It got too
love-liney after awhile. And I got tired of telling girls to take off their
clothes on the telephone, stuff like that. Which took a while.
Gibby: Yeah, well, there's a bunch of shit I did there. I did an hour and a
half interview with Mike Watt, on somebody else's cellular phone, and there
were extended periods of snottiness. Not naughtiness, just kind of sleep.
Slumber. I was laying on the floor of the radio station with the telephone
in my hand and he was out at the Lollapalooza site. I did a bunch of shit
there. I was responsible for them removing every single ashtray in the
entire office building, because I refused to not smoke. And, they'd find
weird things...I'd microwave a whole bunch of lightbulbs. I did so many
things to those people. They were afraid to fire me, and I refused to quit
because they said they'd give me two months pay if they fired me, so I was
just hanging in there until they said to get the fuck out. It was cool. It
might have had something to do with my ex-girlfriend working there....
Jim: Is your dad still doing his show?
Gibby: Yeah, but they're going to retire him. He's not that sad, but....
Jim: You know about his dad's show?
huH: I know he's a children's' TV host. Beyond that....
Gibby: Thank God he used that phrase. They're going to retire him. One of
the original camera men for his show was Lurch, the butler.
Gibby: Modern day dilemmas. These guys were fooling around with computers
in...I think France...and they did some activity and the computer monitor
blew up. They did the same thing again with a different monitor, it blew up.
Then they decided to videotape the monitor while they did the same thing.
And it blew up. Then they decided to videotape the monitor while they did
the same thing. And it blew up. They looked at the film frame by frame, and
noticed that one frame when the glass was coming out there was this gray
bowling ball-sized molecule, that exists only for a millionth of a second.
It's a cool photograph.
Jim: It only exists for a millionth of a second?
Gibby: And they were thinking it could explain lots of shit, like
earthquakes, migraine headaches, flight? I don't know....
Jim: You've got a bowling ball sized molecule in your head for a millionth
of a second?
Gibby: There's a bunch of them, or just one of them maybe, under the ground.
You know, they get together and it happens, and you could see some
displacement coming down. So, what's it like working with (star of Dead Man)
Jim: C'mon, Gibby. All right, you want to go that route?
Gibby: (laughs maniacally)
Jim: What were the early names of the Butthole Surfers, before they were the
Butthole Surfers? Actually, you had some great names.
Gibby: Yeah, we did. Why would that be...?
Jim: That's just to divert your attention away from, "Why is your film in
black and white?" "What was it like to work with Johnny Depp?"
Gibby: Why is your film in black and white?
Jim: You know, my new film, Dead Man, was banned in Australia briefly
because of Gibby. There's a brief scene in the beginning where he's getting
a blow job at gunpoint. It's only like five seconds long.
Gibby: Oh, it is that long?
Jim: The film was banned, and it took them, like three votes to turn it over
so it could be released.
Gibby: They didn't cut the scene?
Jim: No, I wouldn't let them.
Gibby: Good job.
Jim: You see, that's what you get. Put Gibby in your movie and it's banned
on entire continents. I still don't really understand the reasoning why it
was censored. Other than they knew who you were.
Gibby: Especially in Australia. I know doing radio in Australia, the only
word you can't say in Australian media is "cunt." You can say
"Goddamn-motherfucking-son-of-a-bitch," but you can't tag on a "cunt" in
Jim: What couldn't you say on your radio show? Just the seven word thing?
Gibby: Oh, yeah. But you can always get away...instead of saying "suck my
dick" you can say "suck my penis."
Jim: Say "fork you." Or something clever like that. Speaking of Johnny,
what's going on with P? (Gibby's rather ill-fated side-project band with
Johnny Depp) You know, it's No. 1 in Korea? Or the Philippines?
Gibby: Or Malaysia. Yeah, in Korea it was like number 18 with a bullet.
(laughs) And they're doing a...I don't know what...that was a sad thing. I
don't know why we did that, but it was fun. (laughs)
Jim: Seriously, what were the names? There were some great names you guys
had for the Buttholes before.
Gibby: We were like Fred Astaire's Asshole, and The Right To Eat Fred
Astaire's Asshole. And the next time we played we were The Unalienable Right
To Eat Fred Astaire's Asshole. We picked on stars for awhile. We were Ed
Asner Is Gay for awhile. Ashtray Babyheads....
Jim: Right. I heard that one, Ashtray Babyheads. And Butthole Surfers was
just the name of a song, right?
Gibby: Yes. Yes it was. Just the name of a song. Here we are 15 years
later...what's that about, man? Not many people can slug it out that long.
Jim: It's true.
Gibby: What freaks me out is people like Jane's Addiction have these huge
records and then can't stand each other and quit. So where are we at? Well,
we've never had a huge record, we can't stand each other, and we still do
Jim: They didn't spend like ten years sleeping together in the back of vans
in the winter and stuff. Talk about testing by fire....
Gibby: Uhuh. Could be.
Jim: Yeah. And the Buttholes' guard dog, Mark Farner, recently deceased?
Paul (Leary)'s dog....
Gibby: Yeah, sad. I was kind of worried about him for a while there. He was
really sad. You've just got to go through it. It's a drag. I was thinking
about what I'm going to do when my dog dies.
Jim: He had a good life, though, Mark Farner.
Jim: She, was it a she?
Gibby: She. She protected, she really protected.
Jim: Well, when are you going to hit the road for (the new Butthole Surfers'
record) Oklahoma! ?
Gibby: Oh, the name's changed.
Jim: The title? What is it now?
Gibby: Well, it was Oklahoma! and now it is...apparently Rodgers and
Hammerstein really felt like they were going to be damaged by this.
Jim: (laughs) C'mon.
Gibby: I know. And in order to be able to sue somebody, now - this is coming
from the viewpoint of lawyers at Capitol Records - in order to really have a
suit, they've got to prove that you either damaged their reputation or you
denied them money somehow, you know, record sales.
Jim: They think that some old people looking for the soundtrack....
Gibby (laughing) They're going to stumble upon us.
Jim: ...are going to by accident buy....
Gibby: Right. And if anything, I think that the kids would go in and go,
"Oh, wow, it's a joke," but they'd see this other Oklahoma! thing, the
soundtrack, and they're going to buy it because of the Butthole Surfers. I
know that would happen, that would be an effect, and I think they were
threatening to sue us - Rodgers and Hammerstein - because they didn't want
to have to pay us money when we increased their gross.
Jim: (laughs) But what's the legal reasoning?
Gibby: Fear of sue-age.
Jim: See, I had the same thing recently. The MPAA was refusing to give me a
waiver for the title Dead Man because of the film Dead Man Walking.
Jim: They said, "There are two words in it that are the same, so it's too
close." And I had to argue and fight with them and explain that, "Yeah, but
by the time my film comes out in the U. S. in May, that film will have
already been running since November, so it won't even be in the theaters
anymore." I finally appealed to Tim Robbins, director of Dead Man Walking,
and his lawyers called up and I got the waiver, as of last week.
Jim: They were trying to prevent - not Dead Man Walking - I don't know who
exactly was trying to prevent our title, our film, coming out.
Gibby: Oh, yeah. Where do they come from? If it wasn't him and his lawyers?
Jim: Well, it was probably the company that releases his film. It wasn't him
Gibby: You shot yours first too, didn't you?
Jim: Yeah, we shot first, our film was done first, and it didn't come out
first here. But, I mean, I don't understand how that works. Would I presume
to, in Europe and Japan where our film came out first, go and tell them,
"Oh, you're going to have to change your title, it's too close"?
Gibby: Then you'd wait for a call from Tim Robbins.
Jim: (laughs) Probably not, they'd just ignore me, "Oh, that's just some
fringe, small-time insect film."
Gibby: I really like Tim Robbins, I'll say that, but why Susan Sarandon?
Jim: (laughs) Why does she what? Why is Susan Sarandon?
Gibby: They've been going out for a while, huh?
Jim: They have kids and stuff, don't they?
huH: She's managed to survive Rocky Horror.
Gibby: God, I'd forgotten about that. God, Rocky Horror, her and Tim Curry
just blasted off after that, didn't they. It took Tim a while.
huH: He's still waiting, isn't he, really?
Gibby: He gets work. He doesn't get the respect he really wants, I'm sure,
but who does? When you get your respect you, eventually believe what people
are saying about you, and then you kill yourself like Kurt Cobain. (laughs)
So, could you rather be Kurt Cobain or Kenny G, right now? Jim?
Jim: Uhhh...Kenny who? That's a horrible question.
Gibby: Oh yeah, I know. But, then again, if Kurt Cobain had never put that
shotgun in his mouth, he never would have been John Lennon. And if John
Lennon had never gotten his head blown off, he never would have been John
Lennon. Only the good die young.
Jim: More popular than Selena.
Jim: What a horrible question, a horrible question. I'm very angry. It's one
of those questions like, "You're moving to LA. You will get a free car. You
must choose one of these three: A white Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible, a
red Mazda Miata, or an Izuzu Amiga, bright pink." You must choose one of
Gibby: you have picked out the three un-drivable cars. Way to go.
Jim: You must have sex with....
Gibby So a word or two about naked sleepings.
Jim: (in dialect) You vant naked sleepings? $50.
Gibby: $50 for naked sleepings.
Jim: In which hotel you are staying?
Gibby: The one for which there was no naked sleepings available.(laughs)
Jim: Did you get that message I left about (dialect again) "you and your
svinging rock combo will soon be playing all major lobbies of biggest hotels
in all of Russia. Your swinging rock combo." What music do you like
Gibby: I haven't listened to anything at all.
Jim: Do you listen to hip-hop? Or do you hate hip-hop?
Gibby: No, I love hip-hop.
Jim: Doesn't it confuse you when people that you know who have similar
tastes, like, they like blues, R&B, and funk, but they don't like hip-hop.
That I don't understand. They cut off at the point of hip-hop. It's kind of
crazy to me, I don't understand it.
Gibby: Well, these would be people over 30, right?
Jim: Hmm. Yeah.
Gibby: When hip-hop started it was the goofiest fuckin' shit ever, remember
Jim: Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash?
Gibby: No, just after them.
Gibby: Yeah, Run-DMC, that was the goofiest crap. And LL Cool J, and early
Ice-T. That shit was goofy.
huH: Early Ice-T was good, though.
Gibby: It was still that New York style.
Jim: It was musically goofy.
Gibby: Claps, really a white beat.
Jim: But, in any kind of genre of music, 80 percent of it's garbage anyway,
in my opinion.
Gibby: 95%. Speaking of Garbage, man, which one is Butch Vig?
Jim: Which one what?
Gibby; Have you seen the Garbage video?
Jim: No. Do you think that more girls pee between parked cars in Germany or
in Italy? You say Germany, right?
Jim: That's probably true.
Gibby: And it's like, in the middle of the road. While hitchhiking. Those
girls get rides, too. We stopped. (laughs)
Jim: See, it works.
Jim: Are those guys the Flaming Lips from Texas?
Jim: Don't say that. You have to pay royalties. You know about the case with
U2 and this band Negativland?
Gibby: Yeah. Do you know the skinny on that?
Jim: They called their record U2, and they sampled U2....
Gibby: And U2 came down on them.
Jim: But the joke of it all is that U2 went on tour with that Zoo TV, that
stupid thing, and they were sampling live satellite feeds, on the screen,
in the venue, where people paid to see a show. So for them it's cool and
subversive, but if anyone does it with their stuff, woah, they're crused
like insects. 'Cause those poor guys in Negativland, they owe, like,
$100,000 in legal fees or something, and that's more than they'll ever make
in their whole lives, probably.
Gibby: That's one of those bands...those guys are all lawyers or something
Jim: Negativland? None of 'em were TV stars, though. That comes after.
Gibby: Do you like that, Jim?
Jim: TV stars? The recognition? Yes.
Gibby: You've got to have the accent on the "V," too.
Jim: TVee star stars.
Gibby: No, it's TEE.
Jim: TEEVee stars. Of course, you refer to TV stars in the P song "Michael
Gibby: (laughs) Uhuh. There's a lot of those in those two records. They were
done too close together for there not to be.
Jim: Your LA experiences?
Jim: With TEEVee stars. (sings from P's "Michael Stipe") "But I didn't get
to see his car." I like (from the Butthole Surfers' "TV Star") "She drove
me home in her Lexus car...."
Gibby: Yeah, it's car thing. (laughs) I like this.... (a strange looking car
Jim: I don't know...I think it's from formerly Yugoslavia.
Gibby: "We're from Belgrade."
Gibby: "We're from Belgrade, and we know about you."
Jim: In vich hotel you are staying?
Gibby: (laughs) We were sitting there out on the concrete (outside the
restaurant) and this van comes by, and they're all giving us the hairy
eyeball. These three women and this guy come out of the van. They park
across the street and they come out of there, and they're like, "We are form
Belgrade, we know of you." To Jim. "And we know about you," that's what they
Jim: They looked kind of like they were from Belgrade.
Gibby: Yeah, they're totally...whew.
Jim: It was scary, though. It was sort of like, "We know who you are and we
saw what you did." (chuckles) Well what did I do?
Gibby: They had weird knit - their fabric, it was un-American.
Jim: I had a weird experience last Sunday. I was going somewhere, and I
couldn't get a cab on the Bowery. It was really cold, and I was waiting for
20 minutes, and I couldn't get a cab. This car pulls up with these four
people in it, and they're like, "Hey, Jim, where you going?" Uh, I'm going
downtown. "Well, hop in." I did, and they took me right where I was going.
They were really nice people.
Gibby: Were they younger folks?
Jim: It was like two couples, an older couple and a younger couple. And I'm
still living at their place, man. (laughter) I'm thinking that would look
good in your house, Gibby, that light box (over the restaurant counter).
Gibby: Uhum. It's a beautiful thing. I just don't have the money to get the
things I really want. (laughter)
Jim: Someday. Don't worry, you can trade up.
Gibby: (laughs) Some people can actually do that.
Jim: Trade up?
Gibby: Yeah. Conceivably you could, given enough time you could parlay the
world's most worthless thing into the world's most valuable thing.
huH: If you wait long enough, they'll switch places.
Gibby: Yeah. Oh, wow. All of a sudden I'm struck with this incredible pain
in my stomach. I've never endured such pain.
Jim: Your first food?
Gibby: Yeah, a 36-hour layoff. And then that hot sauce hits my stomach with
Jim: You should have known. (laughing)
Gibby: At least I didn't put jalapeños in it.
Jim: A millionth of a second, a bowling ball-sized molecule. In your
Gibby: (laughing) That might have been what happened.
Jim: So what might you change the title to? Do you know?
Gibby: It's Electriclarryland.
Jim: Electriclarryland? That's different.
Gibby: Yeah, it's all right. But we've already had Hairway To Steven. When
we did Hairway To Steven it was either going to be that or
Jim: (guffaws) Hairway To Steven. I like the title "Thermador."
Gibby: (in New Orleans French accent) "Lobster Termidor."
Jim: "Space" is the song with those wacky French people?
Gibby: No, that would be "Let's Talk About Cars." Those people were really
cool. I told you about my new hotel name, right?
Jim: Something Cabbage, right?
Gibby: Rock Cabbage.
Jim: Rock Habbage.
Gibby: Rock Arrots.
Jim: Habbage is the name. First name Rock.
Gibby: I was going through the airport in Houston yesterday, I had 45
minutes, and all of a sudden I hear, "Paging Mr. Phil McCracken, Mr. Phil
McCracken." I immediately ran to the phone and paged "Rock Habbage." I was
teetering between Rock Habbage and Peter Pants. I really like that one.
Jim: But I thought you used Peter Pants once.
Gibby: In a hotel?
Gibby: Oh, yeah, but it was just saying it over the phone, getting them to
say it over the phone at the Houston airport. They'd never heard it. Peter
Pants. Mr. Peter Pants, paging Peter Pants. Mr. Pants, Mr. Pants.
Jim: (looking at pictures on the restaurant wall) All right: Warren Beatty,
Bob Hope, Telly Savalas.
huH: A very young Johnny Carson, who I actually thought was David Jansen
when I first looked at it.
Gibby: Gawd, way to bring up David Jansen. What was his character?
huH: The Fugitive?
Gibby: Yeah. Who did the wardrobe on The Fugitive? Was that Botany 500?
Jim: That was for Johnny Carson, Botany 500.
Gibby: Same thing for Dick Van Dyke.
Jim: And I think also Get Smart was a Botany 500.
Gibby: Didn't they do all the Quinn-Martin productions?
Jim: Do they still exist, Botany 500?
Gibby: I don't know.
Jim: We need some class, y'know? Botany 500. Next movie.
Gibby: I would like to have some of those old Dick Van Dyke outfits he wore.
The whole bit, man. Narrow lapels, three buttons.
Jim: Yeah, classic.
Gibby: Yeah. Not a bunch of Italian crap, padded shoulders.
Jim: Nice, slightly irridescent....
huH: How did you two guys meet?
Gibby: We really don't want to mention the person's name....
Jim: We don't? How are things going?
Gibby: I think she's all right.
Jim: You don't have a number, do you?
Gibby: No, I don't know. I don't return phone calls. Mutual friend of ours.
You've got good lighting there. That's cool. So how did we meet? What did
we talk about?
Jim: You were hiding for some reason. You were in the locked off area in the
little ticket booth, of I think it was Irving Plaza. you were hiding in
there, the box office wasn't open, you were just in there. A friend of mine
said, "Hey, you've got to meet Gibby Haynes." And so I went in there and we
were in this little closed-off cubicle, and you asked me if I knew anything
about computer-generated images and stuff, which I didn't, and still don't.
a master of that stuff.
Gibby: Was....years ago. Before I....I've been trying to get the fuckers at
Capitol to buy me a new system.
Jim: What cars do you....do you still have your Merc?
Gibby: Chevy, '49 Chevy.
Jim: Oh, it's a '49 Chevy. That's right.
Gibby: Yeah, it's running like shit now.
Jim: Do you have any other vehicles at the moment?
Gibby: No. I've got my Lincoln, but it's never going to be fixed, unless I
Jim: What year is your Lincoln?
Gibby: '37 Zephyr Coupe.
huH: Does it run?
Gibby: No. It's got a complete custom frame built, it got pretty far,
but...you know my fascination with that name thing? You know. Leslie Gore
Vidal Sassoon and Little Stevie Ray Charles Manson Family Affairs of the
Hearts of Darkness of the Edge of Townes Van Zandt, and shit like that? Rich
Little Richard Nixon never occured to me. And that works. Buddy Rich Little
Jim: Debbie Gibson Haynes. Olivia Newton Elton John? Olivia Newton John
John. I didn't know whether to...(laughter) Never mind....
Gibby: Shave my ass, walk backwards, or bark like a fox.
Jim: See, these are the things I love, these Texas phrases, I'm always
trying to get 'em out of Gibby. Well, dip a king in chocolate and call me an
Jim and Gibby: (chorus) I didn't know whether to shave my ass and walk
backwards or bark like a fox.
Gibby: If I have to stand upside down on my head in order to stack greasy
BBs with my tongue, I'll do it. You could dip a king in chocolate and call
me an eskimo, but you wouldn't catch me in a queer bar. You could paint me
blue and call me Bob. I love Weehawken Street, Weehawken and that
neighborhood is a great title, a great name for a street. We Hawkin' man. On
that street was the first time we parked our van without Mark Farner in it,
it got ripped off.
Jim: She protected you.
Gibby: She did. She's probably really bummed. You've been to Niagra Falls,
Gibby: Have you put on the coat and gone down the tube?
Jim: No, I didn't. Did you?
Gibby: Yeah, I had to.
Jim: Of course.
Gibby: That's really amazing. You know how Victoria Falls is way bigger than
Niagra Falls, and Victoria Falls, at its highest point, is 250 feet. Angel
Falls, in Argentina, 3,250 feet. The world's tallest. It's cool looking,
too. It's solid all the way to the bottom. That's a cool park, that's one of
the coolest parks in the world. Big, giant state park....
Jim: Did you ever play South America at all?
Gibby: No. I really want to go down there. There's like three or four nature
spots down there I really want to see. There's one in Australia, too,
they've got those rock spires, and they've got this amazing scenery. But it
was only discovered in 1953. Like a really cool amazing natural wonder, and
that's how funky Australia is, man. Middle of nowhere. Well, discovered by
white men. It's so weird looking the aborigines probably wouldn't set foot
near that fuckin' place it looks so weird.
Jim: I think the first time I saw the Buttholes you had King and Theresa. I
didn't...what year did you get King?
Gibby: Oh, way...before we were a band. Late '81 or something. He's
basically been our first drummer.
Jim: You had another drummer before?
Gibby: Yeah, a couple.
Jim: Theresa left in the early '80s, correct?
Gibby: Yeah. She had brain surgery. She's all right. I'm really into that
new brain surgery they have.
Gibby: Radio intractolated surgery or something? I love radio surgery.
huH: That should have been your album title.
Gibby: Radio Surgery? Yeah, they all come, as soon as you turn in the album
Jim: Next one. Do people ask you that kind of thing? "Now where did
Independent Worm Saloon come from?"
Gibby: Yeah, they do.
Jim: "Now, Locust Abortion Technician..."
Gibby: One thing would be insane...if I were to show you the video
treatments we got, this one I've got up in the room is really a good one.
It's like, "Picture a giant high-heeled shoe, right? The band's...." You
wouldn't believe the stuff. There are basically three or four different
kinds of videos. There's the ones that interpret the song, the sing-a-long,
then there's the abstract interpretation, then there's the animated one, and
then there's the spoof...it'd be cool to have one outside.
Jim: The thing about (the new Butthole Surfers' single) "Pepper" to me is
that the lyrics are so beautiful and amazing, the imagery is amazing and
inclination is to make a very minimal video, but that's not what they're
going to want, they're going to want a hook.
Gibby: Yeah, well, I think you could have a visual hook without having a
billion images per second.
Jim: Ever get arrested or closed down for fire hazards?
Gibby: Sure. That's the way they shut down rock shows. The cops did it one
time in LA.
Jim: Because of the fireballs off the cymbals?
Gibby: No, they just shut the show down before we came on. They said there's
too many people in there, and it was cops and not fire people. The fire
people tell you when there's too many people, and those are the guys who
come down and take the money.
Jim: So it was some other reason.
Gibby: Yeah. Some, they didn't-pay-they-duties-downtown or whatever. It was
in LA, so they were like, "So Gibby, get up on stage and tell 'em the show's
over." And I was like, "Sure, man." And I got up there and like within three
seconds after I started, it was like, "Burn, baby, burn!" And they cut off
the PA, so I got the bullhorn. It was like, "Let's take it down,
motherfucker." (laughs) Everybody got all..."Ooh, we shouldn't have put
Gibby up there, man."
Jim: What about the shotgun (that Gibby frequently fires in concert)? Has
that ever caused you to be shut down?
Gibby: No. The cops get all excited about it....
Jim: "Oh, he's not using the regulation issue Mossberg, that looks more like
Gibby: Well, the cops did take my Mossberg....
Jim: Was it a Mossberg?
Gibby: They took my Mossberg in Dallas, and they didn't have a Mossberg for
sale in San Antonio the next show, so I had to get a Remington. It's a drag.
Jim: You need a Mossberg.
Jim: Police-load nine-shell magazine. Because the cops have the Mossberg
with the magazine that goes all the way to the end of the barrel, you can
get like eight shells in there and one in the chamber.
Gibby: It's still not as cool as the Street Sweeper.
Jim: Yeah, of course. The Street Sweeper. Weapon of choice.
Gibby: (giggles) It is.
Jim: It shoots shotgun shells automatically, like a machine gun. It's got a
circular old-school magazine.
Gibby: Yeah, it looks like a Tommy Gun. And you wind it up. Bam bam bam bam
bam! Weapons of choice: The Street Sweeper. I always wondered what it would
be like to get shot by a shotgun at the longest distance where it would just
barely penetrate the skin. And just the look of the body, with dots all over
it. Just wear some glasses and get shot by a shotgun at a fairly safe
Jim; There's a movie, Love Me Deadly....this girl's a necro because she was
in love with her father...and as a little girl, when he was cleaning his
guns, she killed him with a shotgun. And when he's laid out in the coffin,
they show his face, like, peppered with shot.
Gibby: Oh, wow.
Jim: It's one of John Waters' favorite movies. He recommended it to me.
Jim: Love Me Deadly...about a necrophiliac and her friend who's a gay psycho
killer who kills people and then gives her the dead corpses. She gets first
shot at them, before these other little necros....
Gibby: Second shot.
Jim: ...come in. Because at first he invites her to the group necro scene
and she runs away in tears. Because she doesn't want a group scene....
Gibby: Have you driven your El Camino lately?
Jim: Yeah. It's upstate, though. Running great.
Gibby: It sounded good.
Jim: It's running good. It's got gas fumes, though. I'm trying to figure out
where they're coming from. I've got new tanks, a whole new system on it, and
it still smells like gas in the interior. It might be because I have one of
those Cowl Induction Hoods that's doesn't function, it's just for show.
Gibby: But it is just for show.
Jim: Well, it wouldn't cause it to malfunction, though. Those fumes to come
to the interior of the car. I can't figure it out.
Gibby: I don't think those cars are that problematic for gas fumes. '69,
huH: What's in it?
Gibby: One of those big block El Caminos. I always wondered why those
Jim: Small block.
Gibby: Yeah, I know, but they made those things with like 454s and what
happens when you step on the gas? You just go around in circles?
Jim: Yeah, I don't know. With the 350, you can have a motorcycle in the back
and not feel anything. So I don't know what you'd want a big block in there
Gibby: Speaking of big blocks, man, in the Houston newspaper, just recently,
I saw a '66 Fairlane convertible with a dual-quad 427 in it, it's an R-Code
427 convertible, 39,000 original miles. The guy wanted $9,500 for that. Now
that sounds like a lot, but that's a $20,000 car, easily. Worth $60,000,
maybe even $100,000.
Jim: Especially in LA or somewhere.
Gibby: Anywhere. Anywhere. An R-Code, they made like 20 of 'em. I called the
guy up, and he was like, "That car? Yeah, sold it to the first guy that came
and looked at it." This dipshit, he looked in and saw Fairlane, great
condition, convertible, $10,000, that's what it's worth, so he goes,
"$9,500." He didn't bother to see that R-Code importance. It's a
435-horsepower engine, and a Fairlane, a '66 Fairlane. That's a real problem
when you step on that. But at least I didn't have the money, it wasn't one
of those situations where I could have had it. There was never a
possibility. Then there was the three Oldsmobiles, the '49 and two '50s. The
guy wanted $3,500 for all three of them. And one of the '50s had 40,000,
50,000 miles on it. And they were all coupes.
Jim: Oh, wow.
Gibby: And that's what I want. That's the car I want, because my body is
like crap, but I've got a killer driveline. And that guy won't answer his
phone. I keep on calling, he will trade for a four-wheel drive vehicle, and
I've got a four-wheel drive vehicle that King gave to me. I didn't mention
that. It's weird, it was a border patrol vehicle that had a 1970 body but
they just had old bodies on something and put it on like a '75 frame. It
says '75 on the car, but it is 1970-style. It looks like a big Suburban.
There was a big giant oak tree out in the parking lot outside our
rehearsal space in Austin, and it just fell on King's car. King just said,
"You can have it." It just crushed the front of it, the windshield, but it's
a perfect car, besides that. So I was going to just cut the top off and have
a cool convertible, a camping vehicle or something. And I can't get this
fucker....I know he would take this in trade...he won't answer his phone.
Jim: When we were in Memphis shooting, this guy on our crew bought a 1960
Cadillac Coupe De Ville, black, with like 20,000 original miles on it, for
about $1500, out of a barn, and the paint had slight fade marks where light
leaked through the barn door.
Jim: That was the only thing imperfect. It even smelled new inside. '60,
black with white leather interior. Beautiful car, $1,200 or something.
Gibby: Jimmie Vaughan is doing a '61 Cadillac now. He got the motor all
punched out and fixed up, he's putting a blower on it, and just fitting the
exhaust on it, it's just incredible what this guy has done to put headers on
this Cadillac. With that blower on top. He's just like cut bits of the frame
out, he's been working on it forever. Making custom headers, that's an
amazing task. But it's the same thing, his mom bought it. And was like,
20,000 miles on it, a $2,000 car. I never find that shit. He, of course,
immediately tore it apart.
Jim: You can find good stuff around here, Jersey and upstate.
Gibby: They just didn't take 'em out during the (road) salting and shit. And
in Texas they would take them out. They always say, "Texas car, New Mexico
car." But they drove those and left 'em out and all that shit. Up here, when
they really liked their cars, they didn't. When we were up in Woodstock
(recording), there were some real cheap ones up there.
Jim: Are there any groups you'd want to take with you when you guys go on
Gibby: I'd like to go with somebody. (laughs)
huH: You like those short, opening sets?
Gibby: Yeah, I do. In front of 30,000 people? That's my style. 45 minutes,
whew, you're off the stage, back to the hotel and restaurants are still
open. It's like 9:30, shave and shower, everything's cool. Meanwhile
R.E.M.'s like, "This one goes out to...." (laughs) I'd like to go out with
Nick Cave, Jesus Lizard, and Chemical Brothers. That's a bill.
Jim: That is a good bill.
Gibby: I suggested that to our manager, he's like, "Nick Cave doesn't mean
anything now." Like he wouldn't draw. "He couldn't draw a fly, couldn't draw
Jim: He draws in Europe.
Gibby: Yeah, I know. Yeah, he's huge. Those guys are great, man, the Bad
Jim: Yeah, they are. I saw them in Redding a couple years ago when Nirvana
played, and they were the second to top playing group, along with L7 and a
lot of groups.
huH: That was the mud show, right?
Gibby: They're all mud shows. Redding is known for that. It always rains.
Jim: The people get so crammed in front, there's thousands of people, that
they piss into cider bottles and then throw those....
Gibby: Yeah, the cider bottles are so scary.
Jim: ...on the stage.
Gibby: The most horrible one - I didn't go there - was Rock In Rio. There
weren't 50,000 people there, there was a quarter of a million people there.
And the first like 20,000 people in front of the stage. It was a four-day
festival or something? They didn't move. So not only was there a urine
problem - and when you're playing one of those big venues it's cold on stage
until the wind shifts from the audience, then it gets warm and you can smell
'em all, you get this big waft of warm BO. And supposedly the performers
said that was a gagger when you got the audience smell, from Rock In Rio, it
was like baboom!
huH: So you want to play the first day of those festivals?
Jim: Fecal fog.
Gibby: Yeah, you do. First band, first day, eight o'clock in the morning, do
the Van Halen at the first Texas Jam thing. God they were good, though.
(laughs) I forgot who the first band was, then Van Halen, and then Walter
Jim: Joe Strummer once got gobbed while he was singing and it went down his
throat and he got hepatitis.
Jim: Kind of a gnarly story for you. I'm surprised it hasn't happened to you
Gibby: Oh, I've been spit in the mouth. All of that. One time we were
playing LA, and they used to totally be into spitting. New York didn't
really have it so bad as LA. LA was a real spit-palace. We were trying to
play at the Olympic one time, in front of Public Image, and Johnny Rotten
went, "There's never been any violence at a PiL show." (laughs) And they
were spitting so much shit on us, after the show there was like fuckin' worm
rot on Theresa's cymbal. She was so afraid of it, and then it kind of
oxydized[sic] and turned that area green, and it had a dimension to it. We
never touched that thing. We would just like go marvel at it for like the
next year. The cymbal never sounded the same.
Jim: On "Pepper" did King program the drum tracks?
Gibby: No. It was originally this one beat, we just had this riff, with this
beat, and then I took it and arranged it, and changed the beat. And then it
got remixed, those guys did the final mix and they changed my beat. Then
some other guy did a mix of it and changed that beat. And they edited the
two versions of those, of those other two mixes, together.
Jim: It had a different beat when you played me a little piece of it months
ago. It wasn't the same beat at all.
huH: But King did none of them?
Gibby: Basically, no. (laughs)
huH: Are you touring this summer? Do you know yet?
Gibby: I hope so. I mean, that would mean the record was doing all right....
Jim: The record's great, it's gonna do well.
Gibby: I wonder....